The College Football Future Power Rankings project was created to answer the following question: Which college football programs will win the most in the next three seasons? We did not determine winning by simply running a win total projection, but instead as the teams with the best chances to contend for and win conference and national championships in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons.
To answer the question, we had our panel of experts -- Heather Dinich, Brad Edwards, Travis Haney, Brock Huard, Sharon Katz, Tom Luginbill, Adam Rittenberg and Mark Schlabach -- rate college football's top teams from 1 to 10 (1 being the worst, 10 being elite and 5 being average) in five different categories: coaching, current talent, recruiting, title path and program foundation. Here are the criteria for each category and the value of each category as it pertains to the overall rankings:
1. Coaching: This section covers each part of a team's coaching staff during the next three years, with a primary focus on the head coach. Stability matters, as panelists took into account the possibility of coaching changes when rating each team.
2. Current Talent: This section consists not only of the players on teams' two-deep rosters for the 2015 season, but the young players already in the program who might not have an impact until 2016 or 2017. It takes into account the possibility of early NFL draft departures that could affect teams' rosters in 2016 and 2017.
3. Recruiting: There are two components to this section: players already committed and targeted for the 2016 class, and each teams' general recruiting trajectory and momentum.
4. Title Path: In this section we are answering the question -- "How likely is this team to play for conference and national championships?" -- by doing two things: measuring the level of resistance a team will encounter and lowering its rating accordingly, and measuring the likelihood that a team could be selected for the four-team playoff and increasing its rating accordingly.
5. Program Foundation: This section takes into account factors such as program history, fan and school support, resources, facilities, recent and historical success, and any other factors (e.g., NCAA sanctions) that affect the chances for a team to continue to win in the next three seasons.
We then averaged each panelist's votes together to give every team a single score in each category from 1 to 10, and weighted them based on importance. The weighted category averages were then added up and represented on a 100-point scale to create the final team score. It was based on those scores that we produced our top 25 rankings for the next three seasons.